Opinion Essay on Two Selected Stories

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This story has a nostalgic and bittersweet feel to it, and like all good stories, attempts to get a meaningful message across. The author narrates moments in the life of a young girl, Jing-Mei, who is the daughter of a Chinese immigrant mother who has great aspirations for her.


It is very easy to picture the scenes described, to feel the constant strife between mother and daughter as the mother pushes her daughter to be something better, while the daughter rebels, doubting her abilities and wanting only to "be herself," not realizing that she does have it in her to be anything that she wants.
After carefully studying Shirley Temple to become "the Chinese Shirley Temple" and then giving up that idea when a hair stylist from the Mission District gives little Jing-Mei an afro instead of round, silky curls, Jing-Mei's mother urges her to become a child genius, drilling her on questions from geography to math and everything in between. Jing-Mei quickly becomes tired of this and her mother decides that she will be a pianist. She trades housecleaning for Mr. Chong from downstairs for piano lessons and practice time on his piano for her daughter and Jing-Mei actually sticks to this regimen for a while. Unfortunately, Jing-Mei goes through the lessons without any desire to excel, taking advantage of the fact that old Mr. Chong is so hard of hearing that he is practically deaf can't hear her mistakes, and when the time comes to put on a recital at the Joy Luck Club, things come to a head. Jing-Mei seems curiously surprised to find that her piano-playing is a flop, much to her dismay.
All this is narrated so poignantly but at the same time so matter-of-factly ...
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